By K W Warburton, The Reluctant Spoonie
If you’ve ever mentioned your chronic pain to a stranger, chances are they will have said something to you along the lines of ‘but have you tried yoga?‘ as if yoga has the power to cure all ills. Randomly signing up to a yoga class when you’re not ready may actually make things worse. (Starting any exercise regime when you have a chronic illness should be carefully monitored by a medical professional to prevent injury and flare ups). I’ve now gotten to the stage in my graded exercise programme where I can do a small amount of physical activity everyday. I decided to try one of Yoga With Adriene’s 30 day challenges to see what this yoga hype is all about and whether it will actually do anything to reduce my pain levels.
*Disclaimer- I have been doing a muscle strengthening graded exercise programme for 2 years. Remember to check with your doctor prior to stating any new exercise regime.
My personal chronic pain is a mixture of unspecified nerve pain, joint pain and frequent migraines. I have tried several treatments for these pains, including painkillers and physiotherapy. Over the years, the severity of my pain has varied, but it has always remained persistent. Maybe yoga will be the magic cure that I’ve been looking for…
Check out my post on yoga For chronic fatigue here
I managed to do a yoga session 5/7 days this week. These videos are aimed at beginners, but I do not think they are particularly suitable for those with chronic illness. Most of the positions require you to stand for some period of time and some of the sessions are 40 mins in length. I have not seen any difference in my pain levels yet.
This week, I managed to to a yoga session on 4 days. I have noticed that I am now a lot more self aware than I was previously and can hold the positions for longer. I have not noticed any reduction in my pain levels. The controlled breathing parts help me feel calmer and more relaxed than usual. As relaxation exercises, yoga is the way forward, but I do not think that it can help with long-term pain.
This week I managed to do a only yoga session on 3 days as I was quite busy. Finding time to focus on yoga is a challenge with my busy schedule. I have not seen any difference with my pain levels, but do find that I can now hold the positions for a longer period of time. I still struggle with positions that require prolonged standing or raising my arms above my head.
This week, I managed to do 4 yoga sessions. I do enjoy the sessions and find them to be a time where I can switch off my mind and focus on one thing. Unfortunately, I have not seen any difference in my pain levels since starting regular practices and in some instances it has actually made it worse. In these beginner videos by Yoga with Adriene, alternative positions are suggested if you find that you are not able to hold a particular position. A lot of them are ‘wrist heavy’, so if you have weak wrists due to hyper-mobility like me, you may not want to practice yoga everyday as it could worsen your pain.
Did Yoga Cure My Chronic Pain?
Unfortunately, a month of yoga did not cure my chronic pain, but I do think that repeated practice can help strengthen muscles and reduce stress/ anxiety. Yoga is not for everyone and I think that I would have struggled with these beginner videos if I was trying an exercise programme for the first time after being bedridden. Always check with your doctor before starting any new exercise programme if you have a chronic health condition as some types of exercise may not be suitable for you.